Posted Tuesday 24 November 2015
Kingston University is proud to support access to higher education to those who have fled persecution and sought asylum in the UK. Each year we offer a number of Sanctuary Awards to those who would be unable fund their studies without it. Kingston is also incredibly proud to hear their successes.
Abdul was born in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan. After years of conflict, Abdul, the eldest son in his family, was sent on the complex trip over land and sea, arriving unaccompanied in the UK in 2009, aged 14.
Arriving with barely a word of English, Abdul was placed with a series of foster families around north London and restarted his schooling. Despite the disorientation of a new country, being without his family and regularly being moved by social services, Abdul devoted himself to getting on with his education. By 2011, he had 5 GCSEs.
After passing his A Levels and gaining a place at university, Abdul learned that he would be classed as a foreign student for fees. Thinking that university would no longer be an option for him, he beat more than 1,000 applicants to secure a one year apprenticeship at Optimy, a technology service provider based in London.
Just as his year was coming to an end, Abdul's social worker sent him information about Kingston University's Sanctuary Award – an opportunity to get the university education he thought was lost to him.
"It was a really hard decision because I had a job, but I looked around at my colleagues at Optimy and saw that those with degrees were younger and better paid than those without," said Abdul. "I decided to take the opportunity and the risk."
Abdul applied for a Software Engineering degree at Kingston and was accepted. Since coming to Kingston, he has leapt at every opportunity to work within the university team. Now in his second year, he is an ambassador with the KU Cares team, supporting other students like him. In addition, he is also now a mentor and teaching assistant to 1st year students on his course. Abdul is also taking extracurricular opportunities such as the Enterprise Programme to achieve his dream of running a software development company.
"The Sanctuary Award was the difference between me going to university and not," said Abdul. "The support from the KU Cares team has been enormous; guiding me, opening doors, providing the support that I don't have anywhere else. They are so committed to helping students."
"I am determined to keep supporting young people to reach their potential through education. I plan to set up a charity to help young people in other countries to use tech and coding to lift themselves out of poverty.
"Coming to the UK has been an eye-opener for me in terms of life aspirations – the biggest thing I have learnt is that if you want to change the world, support education!"